Max Booth Future Sleuth – Map Trap

Max Booth Future Sleuth - Map Trap

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Map Trap












Max Booth Future Sleuth – Map Trap

Cameron Macintosh

Dave Atze 

Big Sky, 2021

125pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


If you have a map, you must know where you’re going… but Max isn’t so sure. 

It’s 2424. Super Sleuth Max Booth is uncovering the secrets of 20th century gadgets with his faithful but slightly neurotic robodog, Oscar. There are sinister characters and challenges along the way.  So, when Max and his brainy beagle-bot, Oscar, find a 400-year-old navigation unit, they’re shocked to discover that it still seems to work. They trace its owner’s last journey and find themselves on the road to very big trouble!

Far from home, Max and Oscar cross paths with a bunch of bungling burglars, trying to zip away with a precious piece of old-tech art. Max and Oscar will need to map out a rapid plan to catch the thieves and navigate their way out of danger!

This is the 6th in this series that follow the adventures of 25th-century detective, Max, and his robo-dog, Oscar, as they investigate objects from the ancient past – the long-lost 20th and 21st centuries.  Written for younger capable readers who enjoy sci-fi, but appreciate the connection to their own world to keep the story and their understanding grounded., it also offers opportunities for reflection about how we live and the things we use and do and how these might be viewed in the future. Fast-paced, it offers something different that might open up the world and genre of sci-fi for young readers who aren’t yet ready for the plethora of post-apocalypse literature that is becoming so prevalent in YA lit these days. 

A series to recommend to those who enjoy adventure mixed with science.

Over the Moon: Let Love In

Over the Moon: Let Love In

Over the Moon: Let Love In










Over the Moon: Let Love In

Colin Hoston

Yujia Wang

HarperCollins, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


After losing someone, special, Fei Fei a bright young girl fueled with determination and a passion for science, builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess who may hold the answers  to her questions.  There she ends up on the adventure of a lifetime and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures. 

Based on the Netflix original animated film, this picture books retells the story of Over the Moon. Based on a classic Chinese myth, it is a timeless tale of keeping the faith, keeping the love and embracing the unexpected, and the power of imagination.  Young readers will enjoy reliving Fei Fei’s adventures long after the screen image has faded with its simple, direct text and stunning illustrations, and perhaps encourage them to move on to the novelisation.. 

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows











Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Denis Knight & Cristy Burne

Lothian Children’s, 2021

250pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


Wednesday Weeks never wanted to be a sorcerer’s apprentice. She’d rather study science than magic. But when her cloak-wearing, staff-wielding grandpa is captured by a power-hungry goblin king, Wednesday must find a way to embrace her magical heritage and rescue him from the dreaded Tower of Shadows.

Luckily, she’s not alone. Her best friend Alfie is a prime-number fan and robotics expert who’s all-in on Wednesday’s epic plan involving parallel universes, swords of power, and a wise-cracking talking skull.

But it’s going to take more than science, magic, and the world’s cutest robot to take down this bad guy. Because the goblin king is playing for the ultimate prize – and Wednesday and Alfie just walked into his trap…

In a world of magic, can science save the day?

Independent readers who love a story that combines magic and science with great adventure will adore this new series that does just that.  Drawing on the skills of Knight who loves science fiction and fantasy, and Burne who loves science and who has a mission to ” blend STEM and creativity to enthuse, engage and empower” this is a story featuring a smart, feisty female and her best friend who find themselves having to use real-life science to save themselves from the predicament they get into as they travel the Nine Realms, inspiring the reader to perhaps take a greater interest themselves.  This is made possible with the addition of a few activities included at the end of the book and with several more in the teachers’ resources, it is an ideal story to promote to your science and maths enthusiasts. 

Described as being perfect for those who love  Nevermoor, Artemis Fowl and The Witching Hours, the even better news is that Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny, the second in the series, will be out in September, so not long to wait.  

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake










Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

James Hart

Puffin. 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek). 

In the second in this series,  Zeek and Arnie hear about a heap of TREASURE at the edge of the world, so they decide to investigate. Zeek wants to use the treasure to fund his quest for WORLD DOMINATION! But how will they get there? After using their inventing skills to build a ship, the Enchilada, they sail off with Eleanor. But there’s trouble brewing on the horizon . . . What will Zeek and Arnie find at the edge of the world? Will it be TREASURE or TROUBLE? And . . . are they really alone?

The graphic novel format of this book with a minimum of text carrying the story along at a fast pace will appeal to those who prefer screen to print and who, themselves, relate to the geekiness of the boys.  Those who enjoyed the first in the series will appreciate not having had to wait too long to meet their friends again and join in another madcap adventure. 

The Kingdom of the Lost (series)

The Kingdom of the Lost (series)

The Kingdom of the Lost  (series)

The Kingdom of the Lost (series)

The Red Wind   (2011)

The Cloud Road (2017)

The Ice Maze (2020)

The Velvet City (2021)

Isobelle Carmody

Puffin Books, 2011-2021

300+pp.,hbk., RRP $A19.99

In 2011, Isabelle Carmody gave young readers The Red Wind the first in this series, introducing brothers Bily and Zluty who are swept away by a devastating red wind and forced to fight for their survival and journey into the perilous unknown. It was such a powerful, entertaining read that it won the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers that year 

Over the ensuing 10 years, the boys’ adventures have continued in The Cloud Road and the Ice Maze and now finally, the final book in the series has been released in which Bily and Zluty must each travel to the dangerous Velvet City, where they will learn the shocking truth about themselves . . . even as their beloved Monster faces the fate he fled.

Carmody, who has also given our young readers series like the enchanting Little Fur and the compelling Obernewtyn Chronicles  is one of Australia’s leading fantasy writers and despite this series taking 10 years to complete, it is one that competent readers will engross themselves in as they tackle all four volumes and 1200 pages. Perfect for the long winter nights, so check to see if you have the early ones and offer them to your fantasy aficionados. 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward












The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

Jackie Kerin

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


In the late 18th and early 19th centuries as more and more of the world was opened up by explorers like Captain James Cook, the botanists on board the ships were almost as important as the captains and the names of people like Sir Joseph Banks became just as famous as the adventurers themselves.  For as well as discovering the new lands, from them came new plants that could be eaten, used as medicines or for building things, offered delightful perfumes or provided shade.

But for every one of the plants that survived the long sea journey back to England, twenty others died as they were uprooted from their natural habitat and transported with little thought for their needs across windy, salty oceans.

From his home in a dirty, smoggy suburb of London where nothing seemed to survive the conditions, Dr Nathaniel Ward read about these exotic plants, their names and the adventures of those who sought to bring them to England, while, at the same time, those who had moved from England to other countries, particularly Australia, were desperately seeking the plants of home, something that would be familiar and help overcome the homesickness.  But one day when Dr Ward placed the pupa of a moth in a jar with some soil and sealed the lid, intending to watch it transform, he made a discovery that revolutionised the transportation and survival of plants forever as well as having a significant impact on the landscape of Australia.

Our library collections are often replete with books that salsify the curiosity of the animal lovers among our students yet somewhat lacking when it comes to those whose interest is in the plant world so this will be a welcome addition.  Despite being heavily based on fact, Kerin (author of Gold!)  tells the story in an entertaining manner and Suwannakit’s illustrations are both botanically correct and engaging making it an intriguing picture book that spans both fiction and non fiction.  If you yourself do not know of Dr Ward’s invention, read this and I promise you won’t look at a terrarium in the same way again and you will also have the basis for a series of fascinating science lessons.  Teachers’ notes are available.

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island










Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Noel

Farshore Fiction, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99


The classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Squire John Trelawney, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and an assortment of other characters who set out on the Hispaniola to find Captain Flint’s long-buried treasure is brought to a new audience in this adaptation by illustrator Jack Noel to graphic novel format.

Adapted into numerous films, plays and other productions, this epitome of pirate stories really belongs in every child’s literary repertoire and using all the visual techniques that attract today’s young readers, the once-difficult language of the late 19th century storyteller is now accessible to today’s generation. So much of what we believe about pirates, their vocabulary and actions stems from Stevenson’s imagination so even if the student can’t manage the original, this interpretation will give them some insight and understanding of a story that they are expected to be familiar with in their later studies. 

This is the second in this series – the first is Great Expectations – and it would be a worthwhile addition to any library collection that seeks to extend children’s reading into the realm of stories to be read again and again. 


The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen











The Little Pirate Queen

Sally Anne Garland

New Frontier, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Every week Lucy boards her rickety raft and sets sail looking for Far Away Island, a mysterious place that no one had ever reached before and therefore no one knew what treasures might be found there. During the journeys Lucy has to constantly mend the little craft and she and it have been through some rough seas lately and as her friends cruise past her in their more sea-worthy craft, she wishes she had a shiny new yacht. 

But she keeps moving, imagining she is a brave Pirate Queen, and even though sometimes she doesn’t feel brave at all, she sails on.  Then, one day a huge storm hits and a giant wave washes away Lucy and the other children. Even though it is badly damaged her rickety raft is the only one to survive and Lucy discovers the meaning of the saying “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Based on that quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, author and illustrator Sally Anne Garland has crafted a story to show children that the strategies and skills they learn when coping with tough times shape our ability to navigate our future – that if all we know is smooth sailing  then when a storm hits, we might not know what to do. It is a story about resilience and compassion. as well as drawing links between Lucy and pirates generally – for whatever reason, neither quite fits into society and therefore have to learn to adapt and survive, to be brave and bold and mask their vulnerability so they can keep something of themselves for themselves.

Whether read at its surface level of a little girl who turns out to be a brave Pirate Queen, or explored at the metaphorical level, this is a story that can be enjoyed by a wide age range who will see a little of Lucy in each of them. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!

The Thing That Goes Ping!










The Thing That Goes Ping!

Mark Carthew

Shane McG

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


In the faraway town of Figgy-tra-ling, you may hear the faint ring of a thing that goes ping!

But this ting’s hard to find though its sound is quite loud

As the thing that goes ping can get lost in a crowd.

If you wish to know where you can find this ping thing

Let’s ask the good people of Figgy-tra-ling…

And so begins the quest to  discover this thing that goes ping, whatever it might be.  Moving through the town using rhyming couplets that instantly reminded me of a recent favourite, The Dingle-Dangle Jungle, the reader is taken on a journey that introduces a variety of creatures in a range of settings around the farm until eventually that thing that goes ping is revealed.  And it is a satisfying solution that makes the trip worthwhile!

This story works on a number of levels for all ages, particularly younger readers who are not only learning the names of common creatures but who revel in the sounds and rhythms of our language.  The rhymes roll off the tongue in a most satisfying way and with the repetition of the phrases and the very supportive illustrations they will not only be joining in but also be predicting the next text. Perfect for early reading behaviours, encouraging readers to suggest, write and illustrate their own resident of Figgy-tra-ling who could help the quest.  It is also excellent for using with students for whom English is an additional language as not only can they connect the English words with creatures they readily recognise, but again, the predictive text and the rhyme will help them explore the language easily.   As well, there are comprehensive teachers notes, song lyrics and even card games to download, making this the complete reading experience. 




















Rise of the Mythix (series)

Rise of Mythix (series)

Rise of the Mythix (series)











Rise of the Mythix (series)

Golden Unicorn


Mighty Minotaur


Flight of the Griffin


Anh Do

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2021

200pp.,. pbk., RRP $A15.99

The tyrant known as the Soul Collector (who is a physically weak man filled with greed who boosts his energy with his daily rituals) hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique. Among is his collection are  The Holy Grail and Lucifer’s Ring, artefacts of Heaven and Hell which he has united in defiance against their creators.

Stanley is the Collector’s finder. He hates his master and wants to change his situation. He discovers an ancient text on Prophesies and Portents that speak of three instruments of power – The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin, that will return in human form, unite, and restore balance and harmony to the Kingdom.

Kelly, who is trying hard to be an ordinary teenager and fit in with her peers,  finds that every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal. So when he captures Kelly Smith’s mother and holds her hostage after Kelly and Stanley escape his attempts to capture them,  she knows she can’t linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really? Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she…the Golden Unicorn?

The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin – Only these three united to a common purpose can fell him who seeks to triumph over all. 

Kelly didn’t believe in ancient prophecies. But now she must. And she needs to find the Minotaur.

Meanwhile, Minh knows something epic is going on. His body is changing; his strength is otherworldly. But he has no idea that this is just the beginning…

Kelly and Minh must help each other if they are to have any hope of rescuing the people they love. )The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more, will know a third companion, as the days grow dim.  The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular writers for young, independent readers for good reason  and this series is one that may well tempt the lover of Weirdo and Ninja Kid up to the next level of their reading journey, just because of his name alone. Fast moving, well-illustrated and moving within that superhero domain that is so popular right now, with characters that appeal to a wide audience, it is a series for more mature readers which may open them up to discovering more about these mythical creatures of ancient times.